Table of Contents

Course Summary

The course will consist of four sessions of two hours, each session date will have been sent to uou when booking.
During your time on the course all equipment will be provided, free of additional charge.
The same bow and arrows will be assigned to you for the duration of the course.

You will under instruction take down the bow at the end of the first session and then for all other sessions you will be assembling the bow at the start of the session and taking it down again at the end.

Aims of the Course

At the end of the course you will:

  • Know and understand the safety rules
  • Be able to string and unstring a bow
  • Be familiar with the basic equipment
  • Be able to shoot using Freestyle techniques
  • To know and understand the scoring system used in target archery
  • Have information and costs of joining the club
  • Receive a certificate confirming that you have completed a beginners course in Target Archery


The course does not cover:

  • The selection of your personal equipment should you want to join the club. This will be dealt with on an individual basis on joining the club. The training equipment you use will be available to hire.

General Advice

You are advised to wear close fitting clothing during the lessons, this helps to prevent your clothing interfering with the path of the bowstring.

Long hair must be tied back for the same reason.

Session Plans

Across the 4 sessions of the course the below is what you can expect each session. These are not strict but give you a good idea of the kind of things you will be doing each session

Session 1


Equip with bows, arrows, etc. and set up (coaches)

Safety rules

Warm up

Freestyle Technique training (T draw & collect arrows)

1-2-1 shoot


Warm down & take down bows

Session 2

Set up equipment (beginner)

Recap safety

Warm up


Technique training (prepare & raise)


Activity or Game

Warm down & take down bows

Session 3

Set up equipment (beginner)

Recap safety

Warm up


Technique training (draw, anchor & aim)


Introduction to Scoring

Warm down & take down bows

Session 4

Set up equipment

Recap safety

Warm up


Technique training (release & follow through)


Warm down & take down bows

NOTE: Should you wish to purchase your own equipment, you are advised NOT to do so until the end of the course.
During the course the coach will be able to access your individual needs and will be able to advise on the bow type and
arrow selection best suited to those needs. If you already have your own equipment, please get it checked by your coach to
ensure its safety and suitability

Warm up

Warm-ups should always be the first part of anyones  shooting preparation.
If you see someone shooting who has not warmed up, prehaps they need a gentel reminder to do it. Remember not all warm ups are the same as some people may struggle to do certian warm up activities.
First of all, do a couple of minutes of activity to get your pulse rate up and generally warm up the body. You may do excersises such as the below:


If anyone present becomes aware that shooting should be halted for safety reasons, that person must call ‘FAST’. This is a signal for all shooting to immediately stop. Shooting may only resume after a further signal.

There are two lines, the shooting line and the waiting line. If a person is not shooting then they should stand behind the waiting line.

No archer may draw his bow, with or without an arrow, except when standing at the shooting line and then only if the field is clear.

The shooting position is placing your feet astride the shooting line.

The shooting is controlled by the Field Captain who uses a whistle. One whistle to start shooting and three whistles to go and collect your arrows. A series of rapid blasts means the same as ‘FAST

If ‘FAST is called then anyone on the shooting line must immediately stop shooting. Relax the tension on the string, take off the arrow and wait for further instruction.

Never shoot upwards vertically in the air as it could result in serious injury

If you are asked to COME DOWN and you are at full draw (string pulled back) then stop what you are doing and slowly release the tension of the string without letting go of the arrow.   ie. Do not shoot the arrow.

Bows and arrows should be checked for damage before use. Any damage should be reported to coaches.

Safety is all important. Any person, who by their actions, disregards safety or could damage equipment (private or clubs) will be asked to leave the shooting session.

Collecting Arrows

At all times do not run, you may slip onto an arrow.

Beware of arrows on the ground when walking to the target

When collecting your arrows, ALWAYS approach the target from the side. If you approach from the front you may be looking for your own arrow and miss someone else’s arrow and walk into it. This could cause you a serious injury.

When pulling out arrows beware of people standing behind you who could be hit by the arrow as it is pulled out the target

If you are not pulling out arrows then stand back at the side of the target.

Any arrows not found must be notified to the coach who will arrange for a search to be made.

When carrying arrows, hold them at your side with the points down, and the hand 25mm (1 inch) above the pointed end. Secure the arrows against the upper body under the armpit, taking care not to crush the fletchings.

Bow Types

You may be aware of the one-piece English longbow.

You may not be aware of the modern take-down bow used in the Olympics which is the recurve bow. We will be using this bow type for all the course training and it is this bow shown in any sketches.

An increasingly popular bow is the compound bow. This bow is not of a take-down design and it uses cam techniques to                                                    provide a powerful bow.


Archery Barebow Technique

On some courses “Barebow” style is taught on the first session. This style is a recognised shooting style for recurve archery competitions. The bow does not have a sight fitted and aiming is along the arrow. The anchoring point uses a simple reference and will allow you to become used to the modern recurve bow.

You will rapidly move on to the Freestyle shooting technique and all the following notes relate to this style.

Archery Freestyle Technique

This section describes the actual bow shooting in technical terms; how to take a steady stance (standing position), how to draw the bow efficiently, how to make a good anchor, how to aim to the ten, how to perform a good release and what happens after the shot.

Generally about shooting with a bow.

Shooting with a bow consists of an unbreakable chain of different operational acts which are executed again and again in the same way. You could say a bit jokingly that it doesn’t matter how you do it as long as you do it always the same way. There are no exact rules to perform a good shot. If you look at the archers you’ll notice slight variations in their performances, but in a wider term they all shoot the same.

You will learn a basic technique which is easy to control and execute. After a while you most certainly will adopt your own personal style doing your archery.

Step 1 - Stance

Feet as wide apart as shoulders

Tuck bottom in, pull stomach muscles in,  drop shoulders

A steady stance (standing position) is the cornerstone of your future success.

The stance

Be aware of how you stand on the shooting line. Your feet should be firmly on the ground, your body weight should be spread out evenly on your both feet and you should also control your feet alignment in relation to the target (target is called also as buttress or but or boss).
      There are two basic stances; square stance and open stance, but you will learn only the square stance, because it is easier to execute and repeat in this early stage. Take a convenient position on the line so that your feet are a bit spread apart from each other. You should also be standing 90 degrees to the target (archer A). Don’t spread your feet too much (shoulder width apart is ok), because it will tire your feet and especially your knees. 
      Stand straight and firmly. Your feet should be parallel to each other and not like Charlie Chaplin. Don’t lock your knees back, let them be relaxed!

In archery, unlike many other shooting sports, the archer must stand on the shooting line so that his feet are on both sides of the line.

Check again your stance. How does it feel? Unsteady or not? If not, you have learned the first important thing in archery – standing correctly.
Lean now with your upper body a bit towards your toes,  but your heels are still touching the ground. Stand up straight as if the top of your head were reaching up for the skies. Balance now your elbows so that they both are on the same level. Like in the letter T. Relax both your neck and shoulders (don’t try to hide your head between the shoulders by lifting them up) and keep the shoulders down all the time. Check that you are standing still at 90 degrees to the target and turn your face straight to the ten ring! Make sure that your chin bone is horizontally lined. Before lifting the bow up take a couple deep breaths, so there is enough oxygen in your lungs and vessels for the next step.

Most experienced archers stand in a slight angled standing position (up to 45 degrees to target, like archer B). It is called the open stance. This leaves the string a bit more space to pass your inner arm and helps you to get the draw more to your back muscles. We recommend that you stick to the square stance for time being. It is so much easier to perform and control. If you however try the open stance, make sure that you have the same angle with your feet.

There are two ways to stand on the shooting line.  The stances are called square and open. In the square stance the archer (A) stands at 90 degrees to the target and in the open stance (B) up to 45 degrees.

Stand like a letter T in good posture – spread your upper body’s weight evenly on both feet. Keep your shoulders lined on the same level and down all through the shot.

Step 2 - Set Up

Set up position Raise arms twisting from waist (do not move hips) to bring front shoulder forward Pull arm back using back muscles (until string touches nose and chin)

Finding a good grip and lifting up the bow for the shot.

The grip

Grip the bow gently, don’t squeeze  it, and don’t twist it.

Your bow arm should be straight but relaxed and your hand should be straight and evenly on the bow grip. To find the right palm position needs a bit of practicing. The pressure should be in the middle of your palm.

Don’t squeeze or twist the grip. The bow will keep in your hand without you clutching it with your knuckles white.

Place your arrow on the arrow rest and secure the arrow nock between the nocking points on the string. You must listen that the string goes properly all the way down the slot. Nock! Remember that the cock feather (different colour) is pointing out from the handle.

Your bow weighs only a couple of kilos so don’t get panicked about its weight. You can hold it up for a while! Now grab the string with your index, middle and ring fingers so that the string goes behind the first joints and the arrow is between the index and middle fingers. In other words, one finger above and two fingers underneath the arrow.

Now slowly lift the bow arm up slightly over the horizontal level. Now start to draw the string towards your chin so that eventually the drawing hand anchors itself underneath the chin and the string touches just in the middle of your chin bone. In this process the bow will naturally drop down to the horizontal level. Do the draw in one go. Don’t stop anywhere! Also, make sure that the  elbow joint of your drawing arm is pointing backwards and has not dropped downwards!

As children we probably all gripped the arrow with our fingers not the string. A real archer doesn’t touch the arrow, only the string! The string should go behind the first joints of your fingers. You don’t need your thumb or little finger at all, just bend the thumb inside your palm and keep the little finger out of the string!


The lifting up your bow

Raise the draw hand’s elbow as high as you can, before beginning the draw, so that it won’t fall underneath the imaginary arrow line when anchoring. If you let your elbow hang, it will cause your arrow a sudden jump up from the arrow rest and the arrow will go high.

The draw

Do the draw along your bow arm with your upper back muscles and not with your arm muscles! Do the draw as economically as you can, no detours, no stopping, just straight towards your chin! Hold the wrist relaxed, straight and upright (all three fingers are on the same vertical line).

Remember that your elbow is held up above the arrow line all the time. Don’t start aiming yet!
(see also anchoring below)

The right way to hold your bow  is gentle and straight.
Don’t squeeze or twist the grip.

Grip the string with your three fingers only (index, middle and ring fingers). The string should go evenly on the first joints. The thumb should be turned relaxed inside your palm. Keep your little finger off the string!


Using back muscles pull arm back (hand moves along neck) and let string roll off fingers

Your bow hasn’t got two aiming points. The proper anchoring acts as the rear sight so learn it carefully.

The anchoring

You may have tried to shoot with an air rifle sometimes. There are two aiming reference points. One in the front of the air rifle barrel and one at the rear end. On a recurve bow there is allowed only one sight point. The sight pin acts like the front sight of the rifle and the anchoring acts like the rear sight. Therefore it is perhaps the most important thing to learn properly in archery!

A moment ago you started drawing the string towards your chin. Go on drawing as long as your hand slides underneath your chin bone and you feel the string touching you just in the middle on it. You should now feel also the upper side of your draw hand touching firmly the chin bone with a real bone to bone manner.

If your draw hand tends to lift up from underneath your chin you will hit with your arrow low.
If the draw hand drops down from your chin, so there is a gap between your draw hand and your chin, the arrows will hit high! If the draw hand isn’t far enough underneath your chin, you will again hit low. If you draw too far back, the limbs are bending more and you hit high.

You are now near the point of starting your aim. But before doing that, you should still make your nose tip touch the string too! It is important because it is the only guarantee that your head and eyes are always in the same angle in your aiming.

Practice your anchoring. It is very essential part of your future scoring. You can practice the anchoring everywhere without the bow. A mirror would help you a lot in your anchoring practice.

If you are trying to do the anchoring with your bow and without the arrow, do remember not to release it! The excessive power might break the limbs!

Do not practise this at home with an arrow!!

Learn carefully the anchoring!
The draw hand must be just
underneath your chin bone.
The elbow must be slightly above the arrow line.

In these two pictures above there are the common anchoring mistakes. If the hand comes up from underneath the chin, you will get your hit low. If the draw hand is hanging loose somewhere between your chin and chest, you will get inconsistent hits and the arrows will go high.


Only after the anchoring you can start your aiming!

Aiming seems to be a simple procedure, but yet there are more than a few things to learn. Don’t start finding the ten before the anchoring is completed and you have controlled the vertical alignment of the bow too! The bow might feel heavy, and you would like to do the release quickly, but hold your horses for a second more!

Vertical string alignment

Just before starting your aiming check a couple of more things at the same time. Firstly that you see the hazy string line in the same spot on the bow every time! Secondly that the string seems to be vertically straight (you are not tilting the bow)! Even if this takes an additional fraction of a second you have to do these. The correct string alignment is also a very important thing for your scoring.

Concentrate now on aiming!

There are two ways of viewing the sight.

In the first one you see the sight a bit fuzzy, but the target clear and precise. On the next one is you see the sight ring and pin clearly but the target fuzzy. You can choose which one suits you best, but do remember that you shouldn’t be trying to do them both!

Most of the right handed archers have also the right eye as the dominant eye, so you aim naturally with it. There are some archers however who try to aim with the ruling left eye and that must be prevented by an eye patch. It is simply impossible to aim with left eye, if you are shooting right handed.

      You shouldn’t need to close your left eye; the leading right eye will do the aiming naturally without you closing the other! Now it has nearly come the moment of release!

Don’t try to force the sight pin to stay steady on the ten ring! Nobody can! The sight pin will move around the ten a bit. The important thing to do is to make the release just when the pin is there! Actually your subconscious mind will eventually learn to do the release exactly in the right spot and moment for you after a little bit of practicing first.

How to align the string? Have a brief look on the hazy string line before starting your aiming. It should go in the middle of your riser, arrow and sight pin.

Aiming image with an unsharp sight pin and a sharp target face.

Aiming image with a sharp sight pin and an unsharp target face.


How to do a smooth release?

Before the release

The three right hand fingers are correctly wrapped around the string, the arrow is fixed in the middle of the index and fore fingers, the sight pin is reaching for the ten ring, and the anchoring feels great. Everything is ready for the launch. What are you supposed to do now?
      Imagine that instead of the bow you are stretching a rubber band between your hands. If the band is suddenly cut! What happens? Your bow hand begins to move towards the target and the draw hand continues its way backwards passing your throat! That should happen with your bow too. Since you didn’t squeeze your bow it will push also towards the target.

Active and relaxed release
Imagine that you are lifting an old-fashioned metal bucket filled with water up from the ground. The cylindrical wooden handle has a supporting wire (string) passing through. If this wooden handle rolls through your fingers you suddenly drop the bucket. There is your relaxed and active release!
      When you are able to do the release so that your fingers just roll loose around the string and the draw hand moves back passing your throat, you have accomplished a shot which ends in a ten! Practice the release on a short distance; practice again and again until you reach a position that you didn’t notice that you executed a release anymore!

The draw hand must carry on its way backwards at the release. If it goes forwards with the string and arrow before the release, it means that the limbs bend less and you will get your hit low!

Remember the follow through too!

Bull’s eye! Not quite yet! There is still couple of more things to look after. What if your sight ring wasn’t on the ten. Logically the arrow hits where the pin was pointing at! Secondly if your are too eager to look where it hits, you have to immediately after the release move the bow away from your eyes to see better. You were that quick that the arrow wasn’t loosened from the string yet (your fingers though were) and now by moving your bow you are also moving the arrow from its right flight passage.
      Human beings are very fast in their movements.
Calm down and hold your bow hand steady in its right position during the whole release stage until you hear the arrow hitting the target. Only then check is it a ten or nine!
Practice your follow through. Keep the bow hand up and don’t look after your arrow!

Don’t be greedy for a too long shooting distance at the beginning. 10 meters is enough! It is much nicer to know that your arrows really hit the target at your first practice sessions.


To release it pull your fingers “through” the string! Your fingers roll open and the draw hand continues its course along the throat backwards

Other Tips

Even if the bow feels heavy keep your stance and posture.

Before beginning your draw make sure that your stance and posture is ok. Now when you are doing your anchoring you should still hold your posture straight. Don’t collapse, don’t lean forward or backwards, don’t lean sideways off the target. Many archers think that they get more draw power by leaning sideways, these all are common mistakes.
Try to keep all your working muscles as relaxed as possible! If you tighten everything up, you will only get stiff and unsteady releases.

Don’t ever release a bow without the arrow
Without the slowing down weight of the arrow the limbs hit too hard and it may break them!

A good posture helps the whole performance. You reach to the full draw easier, anchoring is more stable and you get the draw more to the back muscles!

Practice the whole shooting sequence as an unbreakable chain of interrelated performances.

A good shot never consists of loose components.
You should do the whole thing well and in one go.
The top level archers know the whole thing. They have practiced all the essential parts first step by step and then put them together forming an excellent completion.

Keep your bow hand up after the release. The shot isn’t over yet, even if you have loosened your fingers off the string. Don’t look  for your arrow!

Your performance isn’t over yet! You have loosened your fingers from the string, but the arrow is still fixed to the string and being pushed towards the point where it is starting the free flight.
    If you start looking where the arrow will hit, you are bound to move the riser from your field of vision and the arrow won’t hit the ten!
    Let the arrow leave properly from the bow before changing anything on your stance. It is safest to hear the arrow hitting the target before looking for the score.
    This is called the follow through, which you can over exaggerate to be really on the safe side. Practice to do a good follow through. It is always worth while!